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Browsing posts from May, 2010

Cool Hand Luke

By bullpenbrian - May 31, 2010 - 12:30 am Leave a comment.

A win Sunday and…

That’s the gist of my post from Saturday night…explaining what a win Sunday would’ve meant for the Cubs.

Instead, Dempster was twice taken to the cleaners by Albert Pujols and the Cards easily took the series, 2-1.

Not exactly one of the 10-best Cubs vs. Cards games of all time, but typical of our Cubs in 2010.

It seems the closer they get to .500, the farther they fall.

Climb back up…fall back down. Big game…big letdown.

It’s like watching Cool hand Luke dig his own ditch…fill it back up, and dig it again.

All we can do is watch and wonder…wonder if these guys will ever get hot…ever turn the corner…or ever get it together to compete for the Central.

It all starts Monday with the beginning of an 11-day, nine game road trip through Pittsburgh, Houston & Milwaukee. Perhaps, the Cubs’ last chance to stop digging its own grave and start climbing out.

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Cubs Silva Lining

By bullpenbrian - May 30, 2010 - 1:00 am Leave a comment.

I don’t think anyone saw this coming…not even Carlos Silva.

But the round-mound of pounds is 7-0…leading the team in quality starts (7) and averaging six innings per outing.

All this for Milton Bradley…who would’ve thunk it!

***

If the Cubs win Sunday they’ll be 4-0-1 in its last five series…all of which are against competing teams: Philly, Texas, L.A. & St. Louis.

They’re currently 6-4 during this stretch and have closed the gap in the Central to six games behind Cincinnati.

Following Sunday’s game the Cubs begin an 11-day, nine-game road trip through Pittsburgh, Houston & Milwaukee…all bottom feeders in the division.

A winning road trip keeps Chicago in the race for the season’s second half…using June 1 as my benchmark for pretenders and contenders.

With the Cubs poised for a long winning streak, something they haven’t done all year, and its best opportunity to salvage the first two months of the season…a win Sunday gives hope for our men in blue.

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What About Wells?

By bullpenbrian - May 29, 2010 - 12:15 am Leave a comment.

Are you demoting Randy Wells to the bullpen? Tossing him under the bus after his disastrous outing Friday: five runs, zero outs?

I’m not sure what to make of it, either. But I do know Wells entered Friday’s game with opponents batting .152 against him in the first inning…not that St. Louis seemed to care.

Wells tossed a career-high 8.1 innings vs. Texas five days ago, which was good enough for his sixth quality start in nine outings. He went 3-0 in April and dropped two tough no-decisions this month…remaining solid overall.

So does one really bad outing justify sending Wells to the pen’? And are the Cubs any better with Zambrano in the rotation vs. Wells?

I’d say no. But Wells picked a bad day to have his worst day…and that might be the excuse the Cubs are looking for to get Big Z back in the rotation.

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Tough Luck Lilly

By bullpenbrian - May 28, 2010 - 12:30 am Leave a comment.

Hard to believe Ted Lilly is in the midst of a four-game losing streak.

But the Cubs’ Ace hasn’t won a single game this month…and his last victory came April 24 at Milwaukee.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Lilly hasn’t pitched well enough for some wins. He has, in fact, but the Cubs give him virtually zero run supportfailing to score s single run for him Thursday..and have averaged a measly two runs during his last five starts, which, better explains the lefty’s 1-4 record.

Most importantly, though, Lilly’s been a huge stop-gap. Since 2007 he’s 25-12 following a Cubs’ loss…with the Cubs going 34-19 in those 53 outings, including Thursday’s 1-0 win.

Lilly has seemingly made a full recovery from offseason shoulder surgery…which gives the Cubs a fighting chance at the division, but only if they can muster enough run support for its Ace.

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Missing Reed Johnson

By bullpenbrian - May 27, 2010 - 12:30 am Leave a comment.

Feels like forever since we’ve seen Reed Johnson at Wrigley Field.

In fact, it’s been a whole year considering Reed missed most of ’09 due to injury.

Back spasms in late June kept him out until July…then a fractured left foot on July 30 sidelined him until September 21.

All totaled, Johnson played just 65 games…was left unsigned after the season and eventually signed with L.A. in February.

Now he’s back doing his old thing…platooning against left-handed pitching and playing where needed around the outfield.

The only problem for Reed is playing time, which is scarce given the Dodgers’ outfield leads all of baseball in batting average, RBI and On-base percentage.

The payoff, presumably, is Johnson’s opportunity to again make the post-season roster…and the Dodgers are headed that way, closing in on San Diego with its Major League-best 17-7 record in May.

The best we can hope for now is to see Johnson back at Wrigley this October…if the Cubs can only hold up its end of the deal!

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Don’t Move Dempster!

By bullpenbrian - May 26, 2010 - 1:00 am 2 comments.

Forget about Big Z replacing Dempster in the rotation. The Cubs simply can’t afford to lose Dempster’s sparkling consistency as a starter.

Tuesday night was a statement game for the right-hander. He mastered the Dodgers for eight innings: three hits, one walk, seven strikeouts & zero runs…virtually ending any speculation of a return to the bullpen.

Dempster’s lasted six or more innings in all 10 starts…allowing three or fewer runs in seven of those outings.

He’s held the opponent to four or fewer hits half the time…holding right-handed hitters to a .200 average…and lefties to a .210 mark.

Dempster’s also held opponents below the .200 mark during his third trip through the lineup.

The No. 3 & 4 hitters are a combined 9-for-56 against him.

And for good measure, he’s tied for third in the majors with eight sacrifice hits!

There is no case for moving Dempster…except to the No. 1 role! And if Zambrano wants back in the rotation, he can start by pitching like this guy.

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Jose Lima vs. Cubs

By bullpenbrian - May 25, 2010 - 12:30 am Leave a comment.

Jose Lima, the pitcher, is best remembered for his stellar season in 1999.

He won 21 games, led the majors in starts (35), made his lone All Star appearance and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting.

Lima faced the Cubs four times during the season, going 3-1. He lasted 7.1 innings on two occasions, eight innings another, and lastly five innings, never allowing more than three earned runs.

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Cubs’ Dream Is Blackhawks’ Reality

By bullpenbrian - May 24, 2010 - 1:00 am Leave a comment.

It’s been awesome watching the Blackhawks celebrate its trip to the Stanley Cup Finals!

Reminds me of the Cubs celebrating its division titles in 2007 & ’08…TV cameras swarming the locker room…player interviews…the anticipation of a possible world championship!

I just hope the Blackhawks take advantage…because you never known when they’ll get back, as evident from its last Finals appearance in 1992.

Reaching the mountain top comes with great difficulties. And despite the Hawks’ core-talent of proven young players, look no further than our Cubbies to remember a good team this year doesn’t guarantee a good team the following one.

The Blackhawks have a tremendous, yet delicate, opportunity to reach the Chicago ranks of the Bulls’, Bears’ and White Sox’s world championship teams.

But a failed chance at returning the Stanley Cup to Chicago will only leave the Hawks wondering, like our Cubs, when that next chance for glory might come again.

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Kevin Gregg AL Saves Leader

By bullpenbrian - May 23, 2010 - 2:00 am Leave a comment.

Former Cub Kevin Gregg is the American League saves leader (12).

After his crash-and-burn season in Chicago, Gregg’s converted 12/14 save opportunities…posted an ERA below 2.00 for most of the season…and has a solid 22:7 K:BB ratio.

Maybe all Kevin needed was the change of scenery…the obscurity of closing in Toronto, the withdrawal from a pressure-cooker like Chicago?

But despite his early success, it’s hard to imagine Gregg keeps pace given his past…the league-leader in blown saves in 2008 (9)…and seven more the following season on the North Side.

Never appeared the Cubs made a mistake by letting Gregg walk…his $4M contract far exceeded his production…and Angle Guzman was primed to setup Marmol anyway.

Funny how things work out, though…Guzman’s career is in jeopardy and Bob Howry is back in a Cubs uniform. Ouch & ouch!

It’s 20/20 vision looking back…but how better off would Chicago be had they kept Gregg one more year… just as the right-handed setup man they so desperately need? That, of course, we’ll never know!

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Score Four & Cubs Soar!

By bullpenbrian - May 22, 2010 - 12:30 am Leave a comment.

If close counted, the Cubs are in business.

More than half (24) of the team’s 43 games have been decided by two or fewer runs…including Friday’s 2-1 setback at Texas. But in those contests, however, the Cubs are just 8-16.

Chicago’s magic number is four runs, which they hit on the head three times during the recent four-game winning streak.

Score four or more and Chicago is 18-6. Score less than four and they’re 1-18!…with the lone victory coming during the season’s opening series at Atlanta.

Forget about the Zambrano situation…forget about the bullpen…forget about almost everything else…the Cubs’ first need is scoring more runs…preferably, four or more!

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